The Ada Cougar football camp is looking at its Week 10 matchup at No. 10 Deer Creek as a playoff game before the playoffs start.
The winner of Friday night’s contest in Edmond will finish third in District 5A-1 and earn a trip to face No. 8 Ardmore in the first round of the playoffs. The loser will have to travel to Lawton for a showdown with No. 6 Lawton MacArthur — the District 5A-2 champ.
The Cougars (5-4, 4-2) have plenty of incentive to leave Edmond with a win and set up a playoff matchup with the Tigers.
• It’s Ardmore, one of the Cougars' top rivals. And it gives Ada a chance to redeem itself after dropping a 28-7 decision to the Tigers in Week 1.
• On paper, Lawton Mac is a tougher foe.
• Ardmore is a much closer bus ride.
“It would be fun for our kids. It’s a rivalry game and you get to play one of your biggest rivals two times in the same year,” said Ada head coach Matt Weber about the prospects of facing Ardmore. “Lawton MacArthur is probably the cream of the crop in that district, but obviously Ardmore is a much-improved team. They wore us out in that first week.”
Weber pointed out still another way a win over Deer Creek (6-3, 4-2) would benefit his team.
“The loser of this game is probably going to be playing on Saturday since Lawton and Lawton MacArthur share a field. We would just as soon keep our routine the same and play on Friday so that’s another added incentive,” he said.
Like Ada, the Antlers’ only two district losses have been to No. 2 Guthrie (41-7 in Week 2) and No. 5 Carl Albert (31-7 last week).
“They’re really good. Defensively they’re really stout. They did some good things against Carl Albert, but Carl Albert kind of big-played them. For the most part they played pretty good defense against them,” Weber said.
The key to slowing down the Antlers on offense is keeping track of multi-talented senior Alex Christensen, who takes snaps at quarterback, tailback and wide receiver.
“Offensively, everything goes through the Christensen kid. He’s a 6-3, 245-pound quarterback, slash tailback, slash receiver. He’s a load. They find so many different ways of getting him the ball,” Weber said “But he’s surrounded by some talented players also. He’s good enough at dealing the ball that you can’t just single in on him.”
Christensen, who rushed for 77 yards on 17 tries in the loss to Carl Albert last week, is one of the leading rushers in Class 5A with 1,223 yards and 17 touchdowns through nine weeks. The versatile Deer Creek playmaker also has passed for 335 yards and has nine catches for 107 yards.
“We need to be aware of where he is all the time. You have to gang tackle him. You can’t tackle him up high. He’s too big of a load. He runs well,” Weber said.
Other offensive leaders for Deer Creek include quarterback Joel Blumenthal (39-of-75 for 500 yards and three TDs), running back Colten Sander (46-349 and four TDs) and receivers Shawn McLaws (13-190, 3 TDs) and Hunter Dinkines (8-150, 2 TDs).
The Antlers also have some size, with huge defensive lineman Brandon Wackerly at 6-5, 315 standing above them all.
“On both sides of the ball, they’re really big — one of the bigger team’s we’ve seen all year. Our hands will be full,” Weber said.
The Cougars appear to be back on track after a dominant 55-6 win over Noble last week and Weber hopes his team can keep the momentum going into the playoffs.
“We need to be playing our best football right now. We have a good football team. We just need to do the things it takes to win football games — take care of the football, not miss tackles and things of that sort,” he said.
Friday’s game will be Ada’s first-ever with the Edmond-based Deer Creek school.
By his own admission, Weber isn’t one to reach too far down into his bag of tricks throughout a football game. So it’s no wonder, the Noble Bears were caught off guard when — after Ada had taken the opening drive of the game down the field and scored — AHS kicker Sam McCann recovered his own well-placed onside kick to keep his offense on the field.
“We’ve ran it at least once a year since I’ve been here. It couldn’t have worked any better. We had already had it in the plans. If we had scored on that first drive, we were going to surprise onside them and try to get up 14. That kind of got us rolling and got things going our way. Teams like McAlester do that type of thing all the time. It’s just different coaching philosophies. It’s just not in me to take that many chances,” Weber said.
It’s safe to say, Weber will play it safe Friday night in Deer Creek. It would be a big surprise to see the Cougars try a fake punt or any other form of trickery.
“Sometimes I wish I had more of that in me, but I just don’t,” he said.
Weber said it was nice to have a kicker like McCann to execute such a play when it’s called.
“We’re out on the practice field every day for almost two hours and the majority of that time Sam is out there on his own, practicing that, practicing directional kicks, kicking from different hashes — that’s one of the reason that play worked,” he said.
Directions to Deer Creek: (From OKC) • Go north on I-44, which is just west of the OKC fairgrounds. • Continue north as this road turns into the Hefner Parkway and SH 74 • Turn left (west) on NW 206th Street • Go west on 206th to Deer Creek High School • the visitor parking is located on the east side of the stadium.
Note: A total of 11 freshman joined the varsity roster last week. A list of those players can be found on page 4.